Mobile network operators face explosion of demand for mobile data

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The majority of mobile phone retailers (84 per cent) believe that 4G licenses will spur demand for mobile data, according to research carried out by Virgin Media Business. Consumers have grown so accustomed to streaming video apps that less than one in ten customers (8 per cent) even ask retailers we spoke to if handsets come preloaded with them.

Mobile data usage has increased by 250% over the past two years alone. Some of this demand is coming from popular apps such as iPlayer and YouTube, which now come as standard on 83 per cent of handsets. Due in part to streaming apps, by 2015 it’s estimated people will be using thirty times more mobile data than they were in 2009.

George Wareing, head of mobile and broadcast at Virgin Media Business, said: “There’s a big job on for mobile network operators. Simply put, mobile data usage is like a bottomless pit, it’s expanding all the time. We’re all looking forward to the benefits of 4G, but it raises some tough questions for operators.

“There is a delicate balance between customer demand, customer experience and costs. To avoid penalising people for watching their favourite shows or music videos on the move, operators are looking at fibre-based backhaul for cell sites. This can help to ease the strain and provide a permanent fix.

“People aren’t going to give up this trend for streaming content and all the indications are it’s going to increase. Operators need to think about the long-term impact and put in place a strategy that’ll make sure customers aren’t affected by a potential bottlenecking of services.”